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The Online Encyclopedia of Wyoming History

western novel

western novel

Owen Wister: Inventor of the Good-guy Cowboy

Owen Wister’s enormously popular novel, The Virginian, published in 1902, was set in Wyoming and established the cowboy in American literature as the noble, competent, humorous, laconic hero still familiar today. Wister, a Philadelphian, first came to Wyoming in 1885, looking for stories and better health. He visited the state 14 more times between then and 1900, writing and publishing western stories and books of stories before The Virginian made him famous and rich, and set a pattern for thousands of western novels and films to come.

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